Page 5

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

 “Duffels’ .  We were each issued with a large blue duffle bag, lined with a plastic bag, containing a seriously warm sleeping bag and a self-inflating mattress.  We had a bit of space left into which to cram our personal stuff; a change of clothing, pyjamas, wash kit etc., up to 20Kg.  Our porters would carry these duffles along the trail for us - (actually they each carried two duffles! )   We had a The blue duffelswake-up call at 5.30 and after an early breakfast we drove towards the Sacred valley and Chillca, our starting point.  The organiser and leader for our trip was a wonderfully well-informed and enthusiasticStart point at Km 77 Peruvian called Eddy. 



The route for the first day was an undulating 6.6 miles following the valley of the Urubamba River.  An easy beginning and I was particularly chuffed to be the first to see Torrent Duck in a turbulent bit of the river, and a dipper!    Our first camp site was just above the river beside the archaeological Inca site of Patallacta.   A pretty and well laid out site, with our tents already pitched, our duffels waiting and 2 large maroon tents for cooking and eating.   Brian developed a bad bout of belly trouble, which threw our participation on the trek into question.  He felt nauseous, tired and couldn’t face any food at all, symptoms rather like altitude sickness but also like previous bouts he’s had.   Gave him a cocktail of pills and drops, including the magic Gastrosil, and waited.


A good night’s sleep and thankfully, Brian’s bout of biliousness had gone.  2 cups of mate de coca were brought to the tent zip at 5.45, followed by a bowl of hot water for washing.  We had to be dressed and packed up by 6.30 and then breakfast.  Loads of liquid mate de coca, dryish rolls, jam and a pancake!

We have all been told that the climb today is the hardest of the trek, as we must climb from 2,600m to 3,600m!

The morning was lovely, bright and warm and the first part of the walk relatively easy, but by lunch –time the going was decidedly steeper.  Although the overall gain in height was 1000m it entailed quite a lot more as there were also downhill bits, thus a mix of gaining height and then losing it! 

Luckily I found a good walking partner in Anne, both of us content with a rather slow and unorthodox style.  It consisted of taking about 20 steps uphill and then stopping for a little exchange of ‘life history’ or for a specific reason and the excuses for those were legion:

  1. ‘Porter coming’ – they always had priority on the track, even if they were 30 or more feet away!
  2. Flower stop – and there were orchids, epiphytes, bromeliads, mosses, and loads more to look at!
  3. Condor Check – well, we didn’t want to miss seeing a Condor – if one flew over!
  4. Nose-blowing stop – we both suffered from nose dribbles at altitude.
  5. Altimeter check – a lovely reminder of my Dad, and useful to know how far we had gone up, or down!
  6. Caterpillar rescue – Yes, we even formed a special team to lift straying caterpillars off the track and to safety. 
  7. Bird watching stops – tiny hummers and others but we had no bird guide at our pace!
  8. And Life Stories …….


Dripping cloud forestThe final destination for the day was the campsite at Llulluchapampa and feeling pretty exhausted we were encouraged to see Eddy in his bright red poncho signalling to us, and thought he must be at the campsite.  Wrong!  It was a further gruelling 20 minutes uphill over grassland, the wind by now whistling fiercely cold, past a drift of snow leaning against the mountain and a flock of well-insulated sheep with their attendant ‘Guardian’ Llama.  We dropped into our tent for a couple of hours of rejuvenating nothingness!   The porters brought a reviving mate de coca and bowl of hot water.  Still, we had made it - this far!

Sleeping in tents has it’s own amusements as I mentioned before, but here we had the added noise of scuffling in plastic bags – amplified horribly when it started at 5.00 a.m.  What could people be doing that early?!

Tomorrow - Dead Woman’s Pass. 

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